CEO Chris Hilger of Securian Financial said Habitat for Humanity reaches many parts of the community you would not think about.
A Securian senior analyst, Naja Vang, grew up in a Habitat home her parents helped build. Her parents were refugees, dreaming of a better life, and knew their children needed a safe place to study, play and grow.
Hilger told Vang's story during a lunch break Tuesday. He was one of 40 Minnesota CEOs and executives who were helping on a St. Paul worksite, one of the largest CEO builds for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.
He said Vang's parents immediately felt stability in their new home.
"No longer moving year after year to new apartments, switching schools and meeting new neighbors," he said. "Inspired by her parents' success as homeowners, Naja was driven to buy a home of her own before starting her family. … That Habitat house 20 years ago unlocked so much potential in Naja."
Twin Cities Habitat has helped 1,300 families move into affordable homes since 1985. The nonprofit is projecting it will close on a record 115 homes this fiscal year.
Habitat is benefiting from a recent $100 million mortgage program with Bremer Bank and other capital-raising efforts that have helped it double its annual housing production over the last several years.
Tuesday's build included Gov. Tim Walz along with executives from Children's Minnesota, CHS, Toro, Padilla, Mortenson and the Minnesota Wild.
"Investing in family stability and security is a key component of the economy vitality of our state," said HealthPartners CEO Andrea Walsh. "And we make our cities more livable and our jobs more desirable."
And with the increase in housing costs outpacing wage growth, it becomes even more important, she said.
Habitat home buyers are working-class families. A family of five earning up to $86,400 can qualify
The Habitat model long has depended on volunteer labor from the buyers, as well as volunteers from business, churches and service clubs. That is on top of paid, skilled workers on projects that have to meet all applicable building codes.
Habitat Twin Cities also raises philanthropic dollars to plug the difference between what these families can afford to pay — typically limited to 30% of household income — and the higher payment to afford quality housing. About $12 million of Habitat's $26.2 million in revenue last year came from donations from individuals, business and foundations, the organization said.
About 90% of Habitat homeowners are minorities.
"If we are really concerned about what happens to our workforce, what happens to our children, what happens to our communities, stable housing is at the core of that and Habitat plays a key role," Walz said.
Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144